27 city, township clerks blame Oakland County clerk for 'frustrating' primary day ballot shortages

Clerks say Oakland County clerk denied request for larger ballot orders

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. - City and township clerks throughout Oakland County released a statement Thursday, blaming the county clerk for ballot shortages that left frustrated residents waiting hours to vote on primary day.

Clerks from 27 communities issued a joint statement following Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown's claim that ballot shortages were due to municipal clerks not being prepared for a large turnout.

"Each and every one of us was frustrated by the ballot shortages that occurred throughout Oakland County," the statement says. "The one thing that could have prevented this entire ordeal was not within our control: the number of ballots purchased for our municipalities."

City and township clerks said they were prepared for the large turnout and requested larger ballot orders weeks before the primary. According to the statement, the municipal clerks knew the ballot orders wouldn't be sufficient but the county clerk did not allow them to place larger orders.

"The single best way we could have prepared for a large turnout would have been by ordering larger quantities of ballots as we requested," the statement says.

Municipal clerks involved

Here are the 27 city and township clerks listed on the statement:

  • Aileen Dickson, City Clerk, City of Troy, OCCA Past President
  • Tina Barton, City Clerk, City of Rochester Hills
  • Cortney Hanson, City Clerk, City of Novi
  • Leanne Scott, Deputy Clerk, City of Rochester Hills, OCCA President
  • Deana Mondock, Deputy Clerk, Bloomfield Township, OCCA Vice President
  • Sherikia Hawkins, City Clerk, City of Southfield, OCCA Treasurer
  • Cheryl Printz, City Clerk, City of Madison Heights, OCCA Secretary
  • Jan Roncelli, Township Clerk, Bloomfield Township
  • Mike Smith, City Clerk, City of Clawson
  • Barb Pallotta, Township Clerk, Independence Township
  • Melanie Halas, City Clerk, City of Royal Oak
  • Pam Smith, City Clerk, City of Farmington Hills
  • Sharon Tischler, Township Clerk, Southfield Township
  • Ed Norris, City Clerk, City of Oak Park
  • Annette Boucher, City Clerk, City of Berkley
  • Michele Cash, Township Clerk, Lyon Township
  • Lee Ann O’Connor, City Clerk, City of Rochester
  • Curtis Wright, Township Clerk, Oxford Township
  • Amy Burton, City Clerk, City of Bloomfield Hills
  • Cathy Buck, City Clerk, City of Wixom
  • Sue Halberstadt, City Clerk, City of Farmington
  • Sheila Grandison, City Clerk, City of Pontiac
  • Debbie Binder, Township Clerk, West Bloomfield Township
  • Cherilynn Mynsberge, City Clerk, City of Birmingham
  • Laura Moreau, Township Clerk, Springfield Township
  • Missy Creech, Township Clerk, Commerce Township
  • Susan McCullough, Deputy Clerk, Oxford Township

Full statement

You can read the full statement below:

"We, the City and Township Clerks of Oakland County, extend our sincerest apologies to all the voters in our municipalities who experienced difficulties in voting due to ballot shortages on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.

"The voter turnout throughout the county was tremendous and record breaking, and in some precincts, it was overwhelming. We want to assure all voters that we hold the right to vote dear to our hearts. We have spent our careers striving to provide fair and accessible elections to all voters.

"On Tuesday, August 7, each and every one of us was frustrated by the ballot shortages that occurred throughout Oakland County. The one thing that could have prevented this entire ordeal was not within our control: the number of ballots purchased for our municipalities.

"We could tell weeks before the election that our ballot orders would not be sufficient, however, we were not allowed to increase ballot quantities due to the fact that County Clerks control ballot ordering for elections such as the August Primary. When the County did increase ballot quantities the week before the election, it was by a very small percentage and still not sufficient for most of our communities.

"Recently, the Oakland County Clerk has commented in the media that the ballot shortages were due to municipal clerks not being prepared for a large turnout, but that is simply not true. The single best way we could have prepared for a large turnout would have been by ordering larger quantities of ballots as we requested.

"The County Clerk’s statement that local clerks could have solved the ballot shortages by sending larger paper to the precincts is not accurate. The machines attached to the printers have an important and specific purpose: to allow voters who request or require assistance to vote with necessary accommodations. These machines are not intended for mass production and the process of voting on the system takes 5 to 8 minutes per ballot. That proposed solution would have only slightly lessened the impact. The only effective solution would have been a sufficient number of ballots.

"Additionally, the County Clerk’s assertion that local clerks were withholding ballots from precincts while crowds of voters demanded to vote is both disheartening and untrue. We want to assure all our voters that we did everything within our authority to make ballots available to all the precincts in our jurisdictions.

"Whether the solution is a change in law or a financial agreement with the county, we will make sure that we have the final say on ballot quantities for future elections. Please know that we will not rest until we know that the shortages that occurred on August 7 will not happen again."

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